“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:7-11)

God is love. In his nature and being- scripture asserts that God is love. This passage of scripture maintains more than that though, it suggests that love itself has its origins in God, that is, true love, comes from God. So what is love? Well John illustrates what love is by telling us how God’s love was expressed to us. It was expressed to us through the gift of God’s son, his Son that atoned for sin and gave us life.

This kind of love that God has given us freely is also imperative. Because he, the origin and definition of love has loved us, then because we are loved- we are called to love one another. Love is our mandate, because our God is a loving God and if we are to represent him, witness to him and experience him- then we ought to love as he has loved us.

May God empower us to love one another, because this is of first importance.

Grace and peace from Marcus.

Baptism is simply a public declaration of our response of faith to God’s work of sending his Son to live, die and rise on our behalf. It is not a magical thing, which once done, makes us right with God. Instead baptism is a response to the full and wonderful provision of God on our behalf. God has sent a Saviour in his Son, Jesus. He lived perfectly, died sacrificially and rose victoriously and the Bible says through faith in God’s Son we are made children of the living God. Baptism is a public acknowledgement of that reality. It is a person declaring symbolically that that affirms that they are sinners, in need of God’s saving love and their announcement to the world that they are placing their trust in Christ as their Saviour and Lord.

Scripture speaks of Baptism as-

1. Dying and rising with Christ.
By our baptism, then, we were buried with him and shaped his death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the death by the glorious power of the Father. So we also might live a new life. (Romans 6:4) GNB

2. As a symbol of our conscience being cleansed by Christ.
This water symbolises baptism that now saves you also-not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection by the resurrection of Christ.” (1 Peter 3:21) LB

Those getting baptized today are simply declaring what God has done for them through faith in Christ. They want the world to know the difference Jesus has made for them.

Grace and peace from Marcus

The Son of man came eating and drinking. Isn’t that a way of doing mission that you could do? When you combine a passion for Jesus with shared meals you create a powerful gospel opportunity.” Tim Chester (Meals with Jesus)

I was talking to my friend this week (over a meal on him) and he was saying that God had placed his neighbours on his heart. He had connected with each of them and wondered if God was calling him to minister to them somehow, but how? Earlier in the conversation he was telling me that he had “dropped the ball on mother’s day, and his wife was a little disappointed- but he said I managed to retrieve the situation by cooking her a meal, a really special meal.” As he contemplated how he was going to reach his neighbour, he was probably hoping for more, from his pastor friend, all I managed was- “perhaps you could invite them over and cook for them.”

It’s interesting to me, how often we find Jesus eating with people. In his case, he seemed to draw invites and say “yes,” to them. He did not have a house to call his own after all and yet it is amazing how often these shared meals became moments of significant, life changing encounter. It’s also surprising how often Jesus used meals, banquets and food language to talk about kingdom matters (Luke 5, Lk 7, 9, 14, 22 & 24). I wonder if this is a model worth imitating. I wonder if the practice of simple hospitality with love and welcome could in God’s hands be changed into life changing, kingdom shaping moments in the lives of those around us. Why not give it a try?

Grace and peace from Marcus

Mere waiting and looking is not Christian behaviour… Christians are called to sympathy and action.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

In Matthew 5 Jesus says, “let your light shine before men that they might see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.” The Christian community is called to adorn the gospel with good deeds that God has prepared for us to do. From early in church history, the church was known for its concern for the poor and the orphan and their good work won the empire. This commitment to kindness, coupled with prayer, proclamation and signs and wonders was a powerful persuasive force in the advance of the church. It’s not that we “do good works” as a missionary tactic, we do good works because God has called us to loving kindness and demonstrated it to us as well through his Son. All that to say we are to live beautiful lives that express God’s heart to those around us and as we do, we glorify God. In Micah 6:8 we see what the Lord requires of us-“He has shown you O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” Generosity to the poor is a powerful expression of the love of God and we are called to it time and again in scripture. So who can you be showing kindness too? What skills and abilities to you have that intersect with real human needs, that you could be God’s hands and feet into?

Pray-
So let’s pray for opportunities and strength to respond to need around us. Pray that we as a church might be light in darkness in our community and pray that our good deeds might adorn the gospel.

Grace and peace from Marcus

“All people on earth will be blessed through you.” (Gen.13:3)

In Genesis 12, we see that God sets his heart on Abram. He chooses him and calls him, telling him that he has resolved to make him into a great nation. But Abram’s election is not only to be a blessing to Abram himself- but his election has a purpose- in fact his election is much bigger than him. Scripture tells us that the blessing on Abram was a blessing that would result in all of the people’s on earth, being blessed through him.”

Abram was childless and old. His wife was barren and God promised to bless him with a child. This in itself was an extraordinary promise. But it was just the beginning of what God had in mind for Abram. His election, and his being chosen would lead to the birth of a nation, ultimately it would lead to the birth of a king- the Messiah, King Jesus, whose life, saving death and resurrection would indeed be the basis of blessing for all nations. Surprisingly though, the implications of the election of Abram, although largely fulfilled in the coming of Christ- still play out for us here and now.

If we are in Christ, we too are blessed, chosen in order that we might be a blessing to the nations. This is mission, being chosen by God in order to be a blessing. We talked about something of the blessing we have received in Christ last week through Ephesians, but remember it all culminated in us being God’s workmanship called to do good works, put simply we are blessed to be a blessing.

Grace and peace from Marcus